Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me

Rather than doing my traditional Sunday Salon today, I’m going to pick up on a meme that has appeared at a lot of blogs recently. Here are Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me, listed alphabetically by author:

The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This retelling of The Mahabharata from the perspective of one of the female characters is simply one of the most beautifully-written books I’ve ever come across. Its transcendent ending actually brought tears to the eyes, something a book seldom does for me.

The Masks of God – Joseph Campbell
I cheat a little here by including all four volumes of Campbell’s magnum opus. While I may now resist some of his conclusions and his somewhat schematized approach, Campbell had the sort of comprehensive knowledge of history, mythology, and religion that I would love to be able to emulate.

Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
This radically intelligent Canadian novelist has remained something of a cult favorite. If you’ve never read anything by him, this would be a good place to start. You’ll end up reading more, I’m certain.

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Rarely has a novel taken the reader inside someone’s mind and experiences so vividly. Even now I can practically feel the griminess of Raskolnikov’s clothing.

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
I can’t really add anything to what so many others have said about this masterpiece. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” How can one read a first sentence like that and not want to read on?

The Shock of the New – Robert Hughes
This opinionated history of twentieth century art (the companion book to a television series I’ve never seen) came to me at just the right time. It remains the only book in my life that so gave me the information that I craved that when I finished it, I went right back to the beginning and read it a second time.

The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
A crazy, atmospheric novel that portrays the “logic” of dream better than any other I’ve come across.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
It captures the innocence, self-centeredness, pretentiousness, and growing awareness of an intelligent young person amazingly.

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
An imaginative journey like few others.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
The first novel I ever read by my current favorite novelist. I can’t wait for the English translation of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage coming out in a few months. By the way, Happy 65th Birthday, Mr. Murakami!

5 thoughts on “Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me

  1. Thanks for sharing this list of books that have stayed with you. I’ve read a couple and I agree with them as choices for this list. Now I need to seek out a few of the others.


  2. What a wonderful list. I’m not sure what I might put on my list, but surely Cloud Atlas would be there. I fondly remember reading everything by Roberston Davies and also being taken in by One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’ve read a lot of Murakami and still feel as if his books are a little beyond my grasp. May revisit them.

    • It sounds like our tastes may overlap a fair amount! Have you tried Murakami’s Norwegian Wood? Aside from being a great book, it’s a good place to introduce one’s self to his world.

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